Soňa Červená was born and studied in Prague, but she entered into her first professional engagement at the Brno opera. From 1954, she guest appeared on the stage of the Estates Theatre in Prague as Cherubino, and made two appearances as Carmen at the Smetana Theatre. Apart from that, she performed in various drama and musical productions, most notably with the company of the comedy duo of Voskovec and Werich, where she played opposite Jan Werich in their famous staging of the musical Finian´s Rainbow. In 1958, she went to Berlin, initially taking up an engagement with the Unter den Linden opera, and in 1962 moving on to the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, in Düsseldorf and Duisburg. There, she drew on her previous experience of seven seasons at the Brno opera, in a formidable gallery of new creations, most prominently in productions of operas by Monteverdi, Handel, and Gluck whose Orpheus earned her the title of Kammersängerin in 1961. In parallel with her work in Germany, she guest appeared in dozens of operatic roles (as Carmen, Azucena, Ulrica, Amneris, Brangäne, Herodias, Clytaemnestra, and others) all across Europe, from Bayreuth, Salzburg, Edinburgh, Glyndebourne and Milan to Amsterdam, Paris and Vienna, as well as in America, from Los Angeles to Chicago. She also sang in works by 20th century composers, including Alban Berg, Stravinsky, Britten, Henze, Menotti, Nono or Ligeti, never ceasing to champion the music of Janáček (as Grandmother Buryjovka, Kabanicha, Zefka or Varvara). Soňa Červená´s stage partners were Mario del Monaco, Franco Corelli, Renata Tebaldi or Birgit Nilsson, and figuring on the long list of conductors and stage directors with whom she worked were the likes of Herbert von Karajan, Rafael Kubelík, Walter Felsenstein, Wieland Wagner or David Pountney.
She translated the libretto of Janáček´s The Makropulos Affair into German for the Frankfurt Opera and for the Universal Edition of Vienna. After completing a score of 2,025 stage appearances in 112 opera roles, at a point when she received her second title of Kammersängerin, she decided to bid farewell to the opera stage. Declining an offer of professorship of opera acting in Tokyo, she joined the renowned Thalia Theatre of Hamburg, where she worked with the stage director Robert Wilson, and musicians Tom Waits and Lou Reed. Apart from that, she also still performed in New York, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro.
Soňa Červená returned to the Czech Republic and the Prague National Theatre in the symbolic role of Fate in Wilson´s staging of the Janáček‘s opera, Osud (2002). She then reappeared there on several further occasions, including the leading role during the world premiere of Aleš Březina and Jiří Nekvasil's opera Tomorrow There Will Be...; and in the 2010/2011 season, at the Estates Theatre, as Emilia Marty in Robert Wilson´s staging of Karel Čapek´s drama The Makropulos Affair. Soňa Červená is the author of two biographical volumes: her own personal memoir, Stýskání zakázáno, and Můj Václav, a book of reminiscences of her great-grandfather, Václav Červený.
Update: April 2013